12th and 13th centuries
The Château de Brie-Comte-Robert was built at the end of the 12th century, when Robert I of Dreux, brother of King Louis VII, was lord of Brie. The archaeological clues brought by the excavation, the elements of the chimneys 'sculptures and the choice of builders' techniques date the origin of the castle during this pivotal period for the castral architecture. Its general plan (square plan, distribution of the flanking round towers, central courtyard, stately building and outbuildings attached to the curtains) announces certain characteristics of the castles of King Philippe II Auguste (1180-1223) which spurred the construction of the castles early 13th century. The architect of Robert I was therefore an innovator and a pioneer of regular plans. The main tower (gate tower), serving as a keep, is here integrated into the enclosure and protects two opposite entrances, unique in Ile-de-France.
The castle remained in the Dreux family until 1254, then passed into the Châtillon family. By successive dowries and inheritances, he fell to Marguerite d'Artois then to his daughter Jeanne d'Évreux in 1319.
Jehanne d'Evreux, who inherited the châtellenie of Brie-Comte-Robert, became the wife of the last direct Capetian king, Charles IV le Bel. On his death (1328), she benefited from comfortable income (royal dower seated on numerous fiefs in Brie and Champagne), which enabled her to devote significant sums to the maintenance and improvement of her own possessions, including Brie-Comte-Robert. She had major work done at the castle, as attested by her accounts kept in the National Archives.
The castle became a prestigious residence where all the great lords of the kingdom, including the Dukes of Burgundy, did not hesitate to stay. We also saw, in 1349, the marriage of King Philippe VI of Valois and Blanche of Evreux-Navarre, niece of Queen Jeanne.
The Lady of Brie had, in particular, luxuriously fitted out the stately home situated against the curtain walls SO, SE and especially NE. She had a chapel dedicated to Saint-Denis built, adjoining the Saint-Jean tower and designed large pleasure gardens.
Jeanne d'Evreux died at the castle in 1370, at the age of 69. At the end of the 14th century, the castle returned to the royal domain, then to the Orléans family.
Louis d'Orléans led a brilliant life at the castle of Brie-Comte-Robert (tournaments, receptions of great lords) but, faced with growing insecurity, he armed the castle in 1405. After his assassination by Jean sans Peur, duke of Burgundy, and the constitution of the Armagnac party (1407), the castle came under the control of the Bourguignon party, which thus ensured a safe stage on the road leading from Paris to Burgundy.
In 1420, the passage of the English army, en route to Troyes, and the siege of Melun which followed, brought some disorders in the city, but did not affect the castle. It is from 1429 that the city was, "by four various times in three years", taken and taken again by the French and the English. The major fact remains the siege put in September 1430 by the Earl of Stafford, which caused immense damage, both in the city and in the castle.
The place was bought by the French in 1434 and returned to its rightful owner, Charles of Orleans. His son, the future King Louis XII, brought the castle into the royal domain.
From the reign of François Ier, the castle and its grounds were entrusted by the King to some of his close relations, either as a favor ("donation for a time"), or by conditional sale with faculty of repurchase ("the commitment"). Among them are: Louis Poncher, Philippe de Chabot, Marshal Jean Caraccioli, Balthazar Gobelin, Claude de Bullion, Superintendent of Finances of Louis XIII. In the middle of the century, various families of Italian lords, close to Catherine de Medicis (Aquaviva, Pierrevive, Gondi), detained the castle, but left the building to deteriorate, even causing the floors and some carpenters to burn down. of the Parliament was necessary in 1567 to put an end to these depredations. At the end of the century, Balthazar Gobelin, a faithful d? Henry IV, had repairs made to it. The castle was still in condition to receive the young Louis XIII twice, in 1609 and 1611.
In 1649, during the disturbances of the Fronde, the city, then the castle of Brie-Comte-Robert, were taken by the royal troops commanded by the count of Grancey. The castle was bombarded by a battery for more than five hours, thus losing its southeast tower. The subsequent restoration must have been very modest: in 1681, the castle was considered "... uninhabitable, the ditches filled with rubbish, the fallow garden ...". President Jean-Antoine de Mesmes, an activist from 1688 to 1723, had various maintenance work done on the roofs, and repairs to the access bridges. Minutes of visit to the estate, and farm leases from this period, describe some interior fittings. The castle was then inhabited by individuals.
In 1750, Germain-Louis de Chauvelin, a lord who had been an activist since 1734, arguing that the building was dilapidated, obtained authorization to raze the towers and the curtain walls at the level of the first floor, however sparing the Saint-Jean tower, seigniorial symbol.
Bought by King Louis XV, in 1766, the Brie-Comte-Robert estate (including the castle) was the subject of an exchange between the latter and his cousin, the Count of Eu. His heirs, the Duke of Penthièvre, then his daughter, the Duchess of Orleans, were the last lords.
During the Revolution, the building served as a prison for Baron Besenval, colonel of the Swiss Guards and military commander of Ile-de-France. The building was then sold as national property.
19th and 20th centuries
Acquired by the city in 1803, the castle was sold in 1813. In 1879, one of the private owners who succeeded during this period, unfortunately razed what remained of the Saint-Jean tower, to build a parasitic modern building. Massive contributions of topsoil transformed the courtyard and the vines into a vast vegetable garden. The town bought the castle in 1923 and had it classified as a Historic Monument.
Since 1982, the municipality has undertaken a program to enhance the site, which includes the archaeological site. This precedes and often guides the restoration program of the castle's remains.
The year 2003 saw the start of the great restoration program of the castle, with the reassembly of curtain walls over six meters in height, the restoration of the Brie tower, then the deconstruction of the 19th century house, allowing partial reconstruction from the Saint-Jean tower, according to archaeological records. Inside the enclosure, the construction of a contemporary building, the Heritage Interpretation Center, allows the association of the Friends of the Old Castle to design, manage and carry out a permanent exhibition of the site. educational activities. This project, under the direction of the chief architect of Historic Monuments, is the fruit of a long reflection jointly led by Jean-Claude Sémon, architect, Lorenzo Piqueras, architect-museographer, and the Friends of the Old Castle, fully invested as project actors.
Brie-Comte-Robert castle is a plain castle. The whole, with a square plan of around 58 meters on the side (exterior), is built in a geographical basin that the architect used to dig the moats. The water ditches are located a dozen meters from the foot of the surrounding walls. In the middle of the SO and NE curtains, two square towers serve as opposite entrances. This provision, which could induce a certain weakness in defense, is unique in Ile-de-France. The NE entrance was surmounted by the main tower, integrated into the enclosure and serving as a dungeon.
Considering the various destructions, only the South, East and West towers kept an elevation of their room on the 1st floor. The other towers still presented vestiges of their 1st level. In 2003, they were the subject of major restorations. No traces on the ground of the stately home and outbuildings remained in 1982, the date of the start of archaeological excavations.
Since this period, the annual research campaigns gradually uncover the remains of the seigniorial buildings inside the enclosure and of the annexed constructions on the lists.
Castle environment and medieval town
After carrying out an exhaustive excavation of the castle of Brie-Comte-Robert, the association is expanding its research on the environment of the castle and on the organization of the city in the Middle Ages. One kilometer from the center of Brie, along the Cornillot valley, she is interested in the old banal mills of the lord.+
Member association in charge of the organization
Centre d’Interprétation du Patrimoine
1 rue du Château